Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Full Plate and Packing Steel

Guess what I've been playing with this past week?

A certifiable blast from the past.
Yes, the second game Bioware ever created, Baldur's Gate.*

I played BG back in late 1999-early 2000, when a friend loaned me the 6 CD set.** There's a bit of a slow part in the mid area, when you're trying to get to a high enough level to gain access to the city of Baldur's Gate itself, but so far the game has really aged well in terms of storyline.

Sure, the sprite images look ancient, but the gameplay remains surprisingly intuitive. The environment simply fits with the D&D system, and it's not hard to pick up and start playing. And boy, the core rules are pretty unforgiving when you use them here. 

I'm up to Chapter 3 --not an "already??" moment, because you spend a lot of time raising your level by doing side quests-- and I've found that I really had to stuggle to get through the end of the Nashkel Mines dungeon. I became reacquainted with the "rest" feature in the area where the soldiers are posted, because otherwise we'd not have enough spells to make it through. And that last fight...

Hoo boy.

I can't wait to keep going.

*I always figured it was the first game, but it turns out they created Shattered Steel first.

**That dates BG right there; you learned to listen for the change in the CD access sound so you knew what event was about to happen.


  1. I got stuck pretty early on playing this on my iPad. I’m pretty sure I have it on Steam too and you make me want to try again. I loved the world and story. The fights were crazy, I think I didn’t have a good party makeup, or use them effectively. Must try again!

    1. I only started to feel a bit more comfortable in my party once I got them to between 2nd and 3rd level. I can't tell you the number of times that I had to reload after a defeat in Chapter One and Chapter Two, particularly the initial flight to the Inn and travelling to Beregost.

      You can't have enough healing potions, and I skipped the spider quest early as well because I didn't have enough gold and I knew that I'd need poison antidote to complete that quest (because spiders = spider bites = poison).

      Compared to modern MMOs, for example, BG and BG2 are much more lethal, so I took my character (a Cleric, naturally) and stuck him in the middle row rather than the front line where the fighters/tanks should be.

      One other thing about BG and BG2 is that you can have it set to pause after each "fight round", so you can switch attacks or prep spells more easily. Me, I keep an itchy finger on the space bar.

      One final note: you can survive taking a rest in the wild or in a dungeon, but this is one of those games where you have to be smart about it. Like if you're in the wild and you stumble on a cave, go rest in the cave (if you've cleaned out the nasties) first. Or in a dungeon, rest in the upper levels where there may be friendly guards (like in the Nashkel Mines).

    2. Oh, and one thing that you suspected is correct: the party makeup does matter. Some party members work better than with others, and some of them I either refuse to work with or use them to fill spots until I can get a replacement (usually the evil ones). In my current game, I had three evil characters who met untimely ends while out fighting, right about the time when I was able to pick up a replacement party member. But some of those party members, when you decide to replace them, are really pissed off at you for doing so. It may be just a game, but those felt like little knives stabbing into me.

      And let's see... Evil and non-evil party members do not get along. That kind of goes without saying, but there's at least one evil character that I'd really have liked to have around, as he's good in a fight.

      Some characters will leave or go berserk if you take too long to complete a quest associated with them. That kind of forced my hand into attempting an assault on a particular stronghold earlier than I expected to. And I paid for it by struggling and saving (and reloading a LOT). I also realized that I had to drop a character due to that questline, and I had to deal with that drama as well.

    3. One last thing, the "Raise Dead" feature at the temples is invaluable to keeping your party whole.

  2. Great stuff! I wanted to say also your post has me itching to return to the original Neverwinter game, which I have on an old laptop with every dlc/ expansion ever made for it.